« AnkstesnisTęsti »
hues that covered old masonry and the "Ah, these first impressions, these
“ trunks of tropical trees, combined with precious enthusiasms of youth! It is like the fervor of the Southern sun to loose in love: repetition may bring deeper emothem sensations that the warmest seasons tions, but never again the so delicate deof the North had not aroused. As their lights of the first kisses!" young tissues eagerly drank in this ether And when she raised her eyes toward of Italy, their hearts expanded to a subtler the painted cupids of the ceiling, one elixir still the drowsy ecstasy, the pas- seemed to catch a glimpse of the girl she sionate and soft delight, which is com- had been long ago, glowing, emotional, municated from a place that has known responsive, surely, in every fiber to the hot many centuries of beauty, inspiration, and sunshine and the ardors of Italy. love.
The sisters, gathered round her chair, Aurelius, standing on the Ponte Vecchio were mute. Thallie, stooping to touch beside the bust of Cellini, let his eyes rove the poodle's silky head, concealed her down the left bank of the river Arno, clouded face. Frossie stared at the page
of where old buildings rose on joists as in the Mme. von Schwandorf's novel, those Medici days. A fair face appearing in a paragraphs of French no more a puzzle casement full of flower-pots suggested to than the loves which they undoubtedly his mind the subject of a tragedy in verse. related. But Aglaia's speculative eyes grew Fearful lest that inspiration pass, he sharp as there came from the parlor a jotted down some notes on the backs of sound of music. Some one was playing on hotel-bills already scribbled over with the piano a passage from “Tosca”- the pencil-sketches--of flower-stands, porti- “Vissi d'arte.” cos, beggars huddled on the steps of Once more she inquired of Mme, von churches. Passing on, with lowered head, Schwandorf: he bumped into pedestrians and donkeys “And Signore Mughetto ?” as he reflected: “Her name should be “Still at Montecatini.” Fiammetta and his Rodolfo. There is no Indeed, the “last master of the true bel reason why the Alexandrian meter would canto" was hardly expected back in Flornot be an excellent medium, if inter- ence before the autumn. spersed with prose dialogue in the comic On the other hand, Thallie had heard relief, as in Shakspere's Italian plays." of a painting-teacher, a middle-aged Then his daughters called his attention to Frenchman, who was ready to begin inthe New Market, and, with the look of a structing her at any moment. As for somnambulist, he exclaimed: "Perfect! Frossie, her "novel of the time of Henry In this porch, at midnight, I will have of Navarre” was half mapped out. Rodolfo set upon by the bravos of Piero "For all my eagerness,” Aglaia thought, de' Medici !"
“I am the one who must be balked !” And When they returned to the pension she wondered why her ambitions should from their explorations, the Goodchilds seem to Providence less important than often saw Mme. von Schwandorf sitting her sisters'. in a little cubbyhole, half boudoir and half In an access of will, she promised heroffice, beside the vestibule. The poodle self to pass, by hook or crook, every asleep in her lap, she was reading Anatole obstacle that fate threw across her way. France, while a ribbon of cigarette smoke She even vowed to attain her full desire curled out between the persiennes of the
before the others had finished their apprenwindow.
ticeship. But the notes of the piano, clear, “And what nice things have you seen strong, and accurate, reached her again, to-day, my dears?"
like the assured defiance of a rival. She As they recounted the details of their went to see who was playing the “Vissi excursion, her faded eyes grew soft be- d'arte” in the parlor. It was a young man, neath the yellow frizzes.
a new-comer to the Pension Schwandorf.
Slender, long-limbed, dark-haired, "But you?" he asked, with a tactlessness showing, as it were, the profile of a neu- that nearly made her smile. rotic younger brother of Julius Cæsar, he “I should believe I were if I could make sat limply before the piano in a rumpled that kind of music.” Norfolk jacket, and struck the keys with He laughed, trying not to show that he his white, bony hands. Suddenly, in was flattered, but looking at her more caprice, his fingers ran from one end of the warmly. keyboard to the other, beat out half a "You sing, though ?" he stammered. dozen crashing chords, were still. The "If you 'll try a song, I 'll manage the innumerable knickknacks of the parlor accompaniment." gave forth a long vibration. He turned, "To-morrow." saw Aglaia in the doorway, and at once For she had heard her sisters in the
hall, and she wanted to complete the im"Want to play?" he inquired, in a pression she was making before he met the high, nervous voice.
others. With a timid smile she drifted "This," she thought, "must be a real from the room. Englishman at last!"
Going straight to the guest-book, she “Not after you,” she responded in a read that he was Cyril Bellegram, of natural way, though thrilled all at once Twelve Chimneys, Devonshire, England. with a peculiar exultation. For her voice, That name, that place, seemed to Aglaia habitually low and steady, seemed the curiously congenial, and as familiar as if absolute complement of his irregular, stac- the words had passed before her eyes incato tones, just as her pale, still beauty numerable times in dreams. seemed to balance his dark restlessness, and her calm gaze to quiet his unstable
CHAPTER V eyes. Many men and women meet for
THERE 'S NOTHING LIKE BRASS BUTTONS, the first time alone with a very subtle and perhaps unconscious crossing of the swords
AFTER ALL! of sex-a feint, a parry, a swift instinctive AGLAIA, in all the sentimental phases of test of strength, the issue of which may her plans, saw herself the dominating determine the outcome of all their com- partner.
For her, man was the adversary mon future.
And Aglaia, even when who must be conquered and despoiled, those words and glances crossed, knew though none the less desirable in his that she was not only more adroit than he, subjection. And she had for a long time but also stronger.
believed that any woman of determination As she realized this, her shoulders and intelligence could dominate any man. drooped the lower, she seemed to grow Nearly all her life she had studied them smaller, wistful, and appealing, while her from beneath her pale-fringed eyelids, spyeyes, raised to his, expressed the sweet ing out their weaknesses, divining their humility of the traditional weak woman lines of least resistance, and in the end in the presence of the "dominant sex.” forming of their defenses a low opinion
“How well you play!” she sighed. that was mixed with exultation. By put
"That? Just fooling Fancied every ting forth her wiles in earnest, she might one was out."
have held in Zenasville at least two He was younger than she had thought, youths, either of whom could have given maybe twenty-seven or eight.
her a home of mediocre comfort. But she "You 're a musician?” she asked, while had let them go, while her thoughts went letting a look of hero-worship dawn in her forth from the little yellowish frame green eyes.
house to far-off places, where women no "Goodness, no!" His expression told more adroit than she had won world-faher that she had made an error, that he mous triumphs over men. did not think very highly of musicians. And now she had encountered Cyril
Bellegram of Twelve Chimneys, Devon- "Not bad. Shake hands with the lady, shire, England.
Bristles." Despite his rumpled jacket and his Bristles, raising his long face, which tousled hair, he had managed to appear was ornamented with mustaches and a distinguished. His speech and behavior little beard like tufts of hemp, laid his had evidently been acquired in excellent paw in Aglaia's rosy palm. Stooping society. Moreover, he seemed a person gracefully, she embraced his wriggling who would be at ease in a far finer place. body, and his sharp bark was smothered One may find certain men sheltered by a by the perfumed ruffles at her breast. modest roof, yet feel sure that they have When he managed to lick her chin, she in their pockets the keys of palaces. Even did not object. to Aglaia, Cyril Bellegram suggested the “He does n't care for strangers as a traditional young prince who has dis- rule,” said Cyril Bellegram, looking at guised himself to seek adventures through her approvingly, and putting his brier four hundred pages of a romantic novel. pipe back into his pocket. She would not have been surprised to She learned that he was bound for a learn that he was related to the English tramp in the country. The hills round nobility. Perhaps there was a copy of Florence were “not bad,” but one gathBurke's "Peerage" in the pension.
ered from his tone that there were finer Next morning, fully dressed before her hills in Devonshire. He would be gone sisters had sat up in bed, she descended to till dusk, lunching at whatever village inn the main hall, and explored the book- he found when he was hungry. shelves.
"How splendid to be able to walk all Her search was fruitless.
day like that!” She wandered into the reading-room, She gave him a frank, measuring glance through the glass doors of which she could which seemed to add, “You must be very observe the hall. In the last number of a strong!" Paris newspaper for Americans she read "Really? At home even the girls think that a certain lady's Pomeranian was dead, nothing of it."
, that an aviation meet was to be held at She shook her head wistfully. Rome a few weeks hence, that the mina- "I could never do it. Five miles would ret-skirt was out of fashion, that Mme. probably finish me." Bertha Linkow had at last recovered from Evidently, he did not think less of her her broken leg. Was this the reason why on that account; rather, her confession the prima donna had not returned to them made her different from the girls at home, in Paris ?
"We may have misjudged more interesting than before. her," Aglaia reflected, and determined to He maintained, however, that a mile send off that very day a letter of condo- of picture-galleries was more exhausting lence.
than a dozen on the road. They discussed Suddenly cheerful, she went into the the city's treasures, all of which he seemed parlor, sat down at the piano, and began to know by heart. It appeared that he to play softly the “Vissi d'arte.” All at understood Italian: he offered to lend her once an Irish terrier tried to scramble his copy of Dante in the original. She into her lap, and Cyril Bellegram entered, demurred: wearing knickerbockers and a salmon- “Before I could read it intelligently colored cravat, his damp hair dangling you 'd surely be gone from Florence." . over one eye, his thin nose high, his teeth "There 's no telling. I may stop anyglistening
where a week, a month, or more.
What “Don't stop.”
old chap was it who said he'd write "Such a weak attempt at imitation 'Whim' above his hearth, or something was n't meant for you to hear. What a to that effect? I knock about and suit nice dog!"
"It must be wonderful. And you never "But all styles, Monsieur! It is for get lonely?"
the intelligent master to permit one's in"When I do, I toddle home for a dividuality to flourish. No two real while. Drop it, Bristles ! Come here, artists can be made out of the same mold. sir!"
One must see for himself, one must choose The dog stopped mumbling Aglaia's for himself, one must be himself. It is my fingers, crept to his master, allowed a affair to show mademoiselle how this one leather muzzle to be strapped around his and that one did so and so through the nose. Then he scampered off into the whole history of art; but what method hall, made the marble vestibule resound mademoiselle herself will follow is for her with yelps, clawed the front door, reap- to say.” peared in the parlor, fawned round All were sufficiently impressed except Aglaia. Catching him by the collar, she Aglaia. When the Goodchild family kissed the terrier between his gleaming, found themselves alone, she said: tawny eyes.
“In my opinion, your M. Zolande is "Good-by, Bristles!"
a big bluff.” Thoughtfully she returned to her bed- “Since I 'm satisfied with him," re
torted Thallie,"it 's all that 's necesThe others were already dressed in expectation of a visitor, the painting-teacher. “How is he going to teach you any
M. Alphonse Zolande was a Parisian thing, not speaking English better than in exile, once on a time a promising young
that?" artist resident in Rome, since then sunk "I shall soon understand his French." gradually into obscurity. Lean, hollow- "Even so, suppose you find out at last cheeked, leathery, dapper in a threadbare you 've wasted your money
and sort of way, he was just finishing half a time?" century in which chagrin had far exceeded “Then I 'll come to you and say again satisfaction. His gray mustaches, impe- I'd rather have studied in Paris.” rial, and pompadour suggested photo- That day Thallie bought a brand-new graphs of the painter Gérôme. His painting-outfit, and next morning, esrestless fingers were stained by nicotine; corted by Mr. Goodchild, she presented his vaguely effeminate costume exhaled a herself at the studio up four Aights of strong scent of cigarettes and chypre; in stairs in Via de' Bardi, across the Arno. the silver ring on his right thumb the stone In a large room, with plaster walls and was replaced with a daub of sealing-wax. a tiled Aoor, half a dozen kitchen-chairs,
He had a studio in Via de' Bardi, and as many battered easels, were set in across the river Arno. There he received a semicircle round a model's platform. A
a “more pupils in winter than at this time Japanese screen stood in the corner beside of year.” One of his patronesses was a divan, and through a half-open door Princess Tchernitza, now unfortunately one discerned a coffee-pot on a metal away at some seaside resort.
wash-stand. But one's gaze was arrested Princess Tchernitza-since one had men- by a mammoth canvas portraying, in a tioned her, that had sent him a young smooth and gloomy manner, “The Defeat Bulgarian to whom, after a year of in- of Cyrus by Tamyris, Queen of the Masstruction, he had been forced to say, “I sagetæ.” It was a relic of the paintingcan teach you nothing more!" That ex- teacher's optimistic youth. traordinary youth was now in Durazzo, M. Zolande, a bunch of pansies in his executing a portrait of the new King of buttonhole, managed to explain that the Albania.
last of his summer pupils had just deMr. Goodchild ventured an inquiry parted for the country. concerning the style of painting favored Aurelius persuaded himself that this by M. Zolande.
was fortunate; the master could now give
all the more attention to Thalia. And enthusiastic. It appeared that such quick after he had admired the “Defeat of receptiveness as Thallie's was unique in Cyrus," peeped out through the north his experience. And he prophesied that light, inhaled to the full the studio odors in a fortnight she would be painting in that he loved, he embraced his daughter, full color from a model. Taking heart, with a moist eye, and departed. He was she gave him a shy smile of gratitude. much moved by the thought that Thallie's
Six days a
week, Mr. Goodchild journey toward celebrity had begun at brought her to the studio at nine, and last in earnest. He was unaware that a called for her at noon. European father, for reasons not related As the days passed, Thallie began to to the arts, would have disapproved of his droop, but less from the July weather immediate confidence in the Parisian. than because of an increasing sense of
M. Zolande, however, was most busi- loss. In this summer Italy of heat and nesslike. Lighting a fresh cigarette, he vivid hues and sensuous echoes, one could examined Thallie's English paints, pear- not, even by oil-paint, efface the images wood palette, and formidable sheaf of of love. “Where is he now?" she wonbrushes. Then firmly he thrust every- dered, the palette sunk upon her knee, thing underneath the divan. He found a her eyes staring blankly at the canvas, and wine-flask, stripped off its straw casing, seeing there the face of the young man laid it against an album, demanded that of the boat-deck. she draw it.
A knock sounded on the door. The What a humiliating anticlimax to her model slipped behind the screen.
lius entered, beaming. Walking home, It was all the worse because even at this Thalia scarcely heard her father's chatter. trivial task she did not suit him. She Every day Mr. Goodchild, wandering drew the flask first instead of the spaces through the city, found more delightful visible about it; she paid attention to the things to talk about. Besides, he was busy outlines rather than to the masses. At with his tragic poem of Fiammetta and last he sat down to sketch the objects in Rodolfo. the proper way, and Thallie realized that It began as follows: she did not know how to draw a wineAlask and an album!
Where runs the Arno through the heart of Her long labors in Zenasville, despite
Florence-town, her father's guidance, had been futile.
And out of palace windows beauty still All that while she had gone on daubing
looks down, in the uncritical enthusiasm, the blind In Fourteen ninety-four, or somewhere self-complacency, of those whose work thereabouts, seems good because it is their own. Now
A damsel from her casement gazed with her ignorance was revealed, as in a flash of anguished doubts: lightning, by the comparison of these two
Along the Ponte Vecchio she could not espy simple studies; and suddenly the precious
The object of her maidenly esteem draw future seemed so far removed that she
nigh! was no longer confident of attaining it.
“Just Heav'n,” she faintly cried. "If that Her pose relaxed; she stared down at
foul Medici band her clasped hands; tears trembled in the
Has laid Rodolfo low with an assassin's corners of her eyes. M. Zolande, looking
hand!” somewhat alarmed, exclaimed:
“But courage, Mademoiselle! One Aurelius now wrote his verses at a table cannot be a Michel Ange immediately! of the Café Hirsch, in the Piazza Vittorio It is the will to learn that is important. Emanuele. It was a resort of painters, Come, next time we will draw it better." sculptors, journalists, where every known
And over her second sketch he waxed artistic periodical seemed to be on file, and